Poland is replacing Russian oil with Iranian oil and unsold Urals crude is being redirected to Asia, industry sources told Reuters. Trader Mercuria, once the largest seller of Urals in Poland, is closing down and emptying Russian oil out of its tanks in the port of Gdansk. Mercuria will use a tanker bringing in Iranian oil to transport out its unwanted Urals.
Mercuria is sending more than 250,000 tonnes of Urals to Asia via super tanker Atlantas (VLCC), which will arrive in Gdansk with two million barrels of Iranian oil on board, said two industry sources familiar with Mercuria’s plan.
A Mercuria spokesman told Reuters that the company was still interested in the Polish market and will continue working and developing its business there in the coming years.
“Unloading of Urals from tanks in Gdansk is just the company’s response to market changes and that does not mean Mercuria plans to stop working in Gdansk and in Poland,” he said.
Urals lost its position on the Polish market in the past year due to the increased activity of Middle Eastern producers, which boosted supplies to the Baltic Sea area, forcing Russian companies to cut prices. The considerable reduction of pipeline oil prices in Poland since the start of 2016, combined with Gdansk imports, squeezed out Mercuria’s supplies. Polish refiner Lotos bought 2 million barrels of oil from National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and the cargo will arrive in Gdansk in mid-August.
Mercuria’s lease contract for shore tanks in Gdansk with PERN, the Polish operator of trunk oil pipelines, expires in August, sources say.
The contract will not be extended, Mercuria refused to pay higher rates, and the trader will empty tanks before the end of August, sources say.